Adam Madison, The Triplicate

As the strains of a Bach opus faded away, it was hard to picture this scholarly organist as one of Del Norte County's most active volunteers.

But Dr. Albert ("just call me Al") Halls is a human dynamo known for a wide spectrum of volunteering chores, most of which reflect his own erudite background.

Dr. Halls is a retired physician from Nebraska, where one of his four children, a son, is also an MD. Al spends a lot of his time teaching and lecturing on medical subjects. For example, his free Advanced Nursing Course will be repeated this fall by popular demand. His first session was sponsored by a Rural Human Services grant.

When the grant ended, students pleaded for the course to continue. "So," he explained in a recent interview, "I moved it over to the Methodist Church and kept going, for free."

The doctor is also a linguist and mathematician. He is also a lay leader at the United Methodist Church of Crescent City, where he delivers an occasional sermon and teaches a Bible class as well.

You can also find him at the Crescent City campus of Del Norte Public Library, where he is an unpaid volunteer in the GED program. He tutors in languages, including English as a Second Language, teaches math and literacy programs.

Halls is also a familiar figure at the Senior Center, where he teaches piano music and plays an active role in the Widowed Persons organization, which meets there.

If you attend Community Concerts programs, you may have noticed the doctor. He is the fellow who welcomes the audience each time, and is currently Curry-Del Norte Community Concert Association president.

Al moved west about seven years ago to be near local family members and almost immediately got involved in community affairs.

"I had nothing to do so I decided to begin helping others where my own background may be useful," he explained. He hasn't tutored any gourmet cooking classes yet, but admits to hobby status here. "I took a course from Julia Childs once," he confided, "and I have my favorites."

Doctors are usually meticulous about keeping fit. Halls is no exception. Last year he sold his car and took to walking, which he does rain or shine.

"At my age I thought it was time to slow down a bit, and exercise more. I do six miles a day most days and the other day a motorist stopped and told me I was doing 2 1/2 miles per hour," he beamed.

Dr. Halls can be reached

Ann Terrill Garlick is a veteran, award-winning journalist and a native Californian. She spent nearly 23 years as one of the editors at the Orange County Register. She can be reached at